The Fit Life – Gerda is Fit Over 40

“I started my fitness journey and one of the glaring reasons I did was the feeling of ‘un-sureness’ I had doing ordinary things. Feeling unsteady, vulnerable and timid about stairs, long walks, hikes. At age 50 I wasn’t ready to stop doing the things I liked. I made a change, took charge and never looked back.” Meet Gerda!

I’m Gerda Collins

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“At 53 years of age, I’ve come to the place in my life that intend to do things that really move and inspire me. Confidence has come to reside in my being.  I’ve been married 34 years and have 2 children, and 2 grandchildren. I feel very privileged to be called wife, mother, and grandmother.”

My Fitness Journey

“Proper health and fitness have ‘eluded’ me most of my life. Recently several family crises and my own declining health left me in a sorry state of stress and fatigue. On October 22, 2014, unwilling to resign to this as my life now, I embarked on a new lifestyle; not a fad program or diet, but I made a real and sustainable change by overhauling my brain and body.

I began by enlisting professional help. I hired a personal trainer who understand clients Over 40, and began a weight lifting program, cardio and “clean eating”.

The accountability of meeting with someone regularly has helped me greatly. I started out with a simple 15 minute walk twice daily and 2 sessions per week in the gym. Over time, I learned to work all the muscle groups, learned to ‘listen’ to my body and become aware of what my muscles were doing (and not doing)!

Each week my walk increased by 10 minutes and soon I was doing 1 hour a day and 3 gym sessions a week.  Now I work out on my own, 4 times a week in the gym: 1 hour lifting weights and 30 minutes of cardio (usually elliptical). I also do 45 minutes of cardio on my home treadmill twice a week. Currently I meet with my trainer 3 times a month because I need a push to stay motivated, make sure I’m on track and my form is correct to avoid injury.”

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Clean Eating

“Early on in my journey I began eating clean (very limited processed foods); protein, veggies and slow carbs (mainly sweet potato or brown rice).  By following a strict food plan I started to realize that even though I wasn’t a ‘binge’ eater, I had formed some very emotional attachments to food. When I didn’t have to think about what to eat  (I do meal preparations for one week at a time) I became free of those emotions… wow.. that was an eye opener!

“Food is fuel.. and I’m fueling a Maserati not a moped!”

I now plan my ‘cheat meals’ or ‘re-feeds’ very carefully. I don’t eat junk because I truly don’t want to.  I choose real and well-prepared foods. If I have a special event coming up I plan for it and allow myself that occasion to enjoy (within reason) what I want. 

One thing that was VERY hard to get through my head initially was not eating enough calories! I slowly began to understand that depriving myself was not helping my cause in any way.  “Fuel for the gains” is what I hear from fellow lifters. Now I know that when you exercise 6 days a week, you need plenty of fuel to feed growing muscles and muscles burn a lot of fat!”

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Fitness Friends

“I found great encouragement and ‘kinship’ online, the lifting-community is FULL of people eager to help. Both online and in person, #grandmaswholift are not as rare as one might think.

It’s been 11 months and I’m 45 pounds lighter and a lot stronger! I still have to lose 40 pounds, but I know I can do that. I just know it now! I’ve increased my energy and have confidence in my ability to accomplish any goal I set!

I really feel that if I can do this anyone can. (I mean 99.9%) In the past I’ve been the worst disciplined person and it’s true what they say, ‘You have to come to that place where you say enough! I REALLY want this.’ And then you find your inner strength…..

Just typing this makes me cry; I think ‘Why did it take me so long!?’ And yes, I’m doing this now and you can too. Stay the course!”

Get Fit Over 40

Thank you for sharing your story Gerda! (Instagram @gerdasgarden)

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I’m inspired every single day by women around the world, friends of GFO40. I have “down-days” when I think “I’m not making a difference” and then I recall the women I’ve witnessed experience this emotion… this elation… this aha moment….and it’s then I wish every single woman on earth knew how good they could feel if they just let themselves. Thank you so much again Gerda and my many supportive friends. We are Fit Over 40. Please join us, there are so many wonderful life experiences yet to be enjoyed- get strong for your future.

~karen

You Can’t Get There from Here

Bad knees? Bum shoulder? Weak back?

It’s nearly impossible to help someone if they won’t help themselves. If you want to lose weight but you’re in pain, you’re inflexible, you can’t squat, or you can’t lift your arm, you need a physiotherapist before an exercise program. Harsh? Maybe…but in the long run you’ll thank me.

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You see, if you try to jump over a vast expanse chances are you won’t make it. So too, you can’t go from overweight and wracked with pain to lean, strong, and pain-free –you have to take steps in between.

Build A Bridge

Begin by shifting your focus (for the time being) into a mindset of health, ease of movement and vitality. (I know that sucks when you’re thinking lean and sexy but….) by correcting the acute condition, you’ll begin to feel better, more hopeful and confident. AND THEN YOU WILL LOSE THE WEIGHT. You’ll have the solid foundation necessary to undertake a realistic weight loss plan.  Really, it’s the only way to progress.

Start Where You Are

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“Pain management, physiotherapy, and a good flexibility program are a must in order to rehabilitate and move beyond painful physical conditions and achieve sustainable weight loss and good health.”

You want to lose weight yet an old and painful injury is stopping you in your tracks. You believe that if only you could dump the weight that injury would be tolerable, right? You think, “If I lost 20 (30, 50, 100) pounds; then I’ll feel good about myself, and then I’ll take better care of myself, and then my condition (painful shoulder, stiff hips, bad back) will heal. I’ll be happy and healthy if I lose the weight…..”

#1 It’s possible (sustainable weight loss) but not probable. In most cases the pain associated with a chronic condition saps your resolve to stick to a plan and limits your ability to perform proper exercise.

#2 Often it’s not even the original problem you’re dealing with now. (that’s why you need to see a professional) When you’re hurt and recovering from injury or surgery, your brain sends messages to protect the area (you use it less, and baby it more) and it grows weak with disuse. Ligaments and tendons shorten as movement is limited. The healing process itself causes scar tissue and that adds to the whole mess. You live in pain and pain holds you back.

It’s a vicious circle; you can’t move because you’re in pain and your pain continues because you can’t move. And it goes without saying; you’ll probably not reach your weight loss goals with so much physical chaos….ugh!

You Can’t Get There From Here

Action Eight participant Julie V. has been dealing with this nightmare existence for years. She’s not overweight but wants a healthy, active retirement and a strong body. She wants to ease her painful joints. She wants to minimize the symptoms of menopause, and she wants to keep her metabolism stoked to avoid inevitable age-related weight gain.

She wants to manage her aging but she has to begin where she is now, and that’s in constant pain.

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“Julie knew that she had to keep moving but tightness in her joints, chronic pain and resulting muscle imbalances kept her from full range exercise form. After physio she’s limber enough to squat deeper and do more in the gym than ever before.”

Julie began experiencing excruciating pain in her hips more than 6 years ago. She couldn’t do her job and went on modified duties. She was diagnosed with torn tissues and bone spurs (most likely caused from years of wear and tear from sports combined with heredity). After surgery to scrape the spurs and repair the tears, she was left with limited range of motion, still in chronic pain, experiencing sleepless nights and had little hope of breaking the cycle.

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“Today. Finishing a workout with a stretch in a lengthened supine pose. This position used to cause so much discomfort that she couldn’t sleep well at all. With therapeutic manipulation, daily stretching and a good weight-bearing exercise program things are beginning to change for the better!”

As the joints heal, new issues arise. Scar tissue that forms to protect the healing body parts cause painful inflexibility. Unfortunately her decision to stop physiotherapy limited her ability to maintain a reasonable level of flexibility. She continued to exercise with the intention of living the best quality of life possible, but felt her efforts produced less advancement than she hoped.

When we began working together several months ago I explained that she’d have to address inflexibility before she could even hope to further strengthen her body. Her mindset and determination was perfectly poised for very healthy aging yet the her body’s tightness made it impossible to perform exercise optimally.

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“Very subtle differences make the world of difference in someone healing from trauma and is experiencing painful movement. A taller posture and a hopeful outlook is just as thrilling as dramatic weight loss. Julie feels the difference and very encouraged by what can be seen in her comparisons and more by what can’t be seen. Her pain is not getting the best of her!”

Now on The Action Plan and back to therapy, Julie is seeing and feeling a big difference. It’s still uncomfortable for sure, but now she has the confidence and guidance that will help her achieve her goals, maintain a good level of physical strength and has hope for a pain-free future.

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“By working on flexibility first, her workouts serve to strengthen lengthened muscles, tendons and ligaments instead of reinforcing tight, restricted areas. She stands taller and her postural improvements are the first sign that muscles are responding and working as they should. Exercise form and function continues to improve and Julie’s growing confidence keeps her active and engaged in her training.” 

Begin with Where You Are

If you want to lose weight but you’re in pain, get therapy! Even if you’re not overweight, treat the pain for a better quality of life and health. Commit to it for a lifetime if you must!

Exercise will not “cure” genetic conditions nor heal injury but weight-bearing exercises are important for pain sufferers. Resistance training can strengthen muscles around the joint that hurts. The stronger the muscle is, the less pain you are likely to feel in that joint, but you have to get help to get to the point where weight lifting is possible. You have to get beyond the pain.

Get Fit Over 40

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When I was starting out as a trainer I thought I could help everyone. I thought that if only people would start exercising they could achieve their goals through sheer willpower. I know better now. The Action Plan is not for everyone. If you’re experiencing pain or dealing with acute or chronic conditions please start by seeing a medical professional. Work with a reputable personal trainer as you begin your exercise journey back to good health.

The plan will work optimally when your body works optimally. Do it for yourself and do it today. A world of possibilities will open to you when you take the first steps!

Wishing you the best health!

~Karen

The Fit Life – Barbara is Fit Over 40

“You have one body. Care for it and feed it well, it’s the only place you have to live.” I truly believe the fountain of youth is found in the gym, in the classroom (yoga, spin, boxing…. whatever!), in the pool…….. and a nice glass of red wine doesn’t hurt.” Meet Barb!

I’m Barbara Joan Warwick

barb10599248_10204157238028409_7532160826461057141_n“I’m about to turn 48, married and my two kids are in college, age 20 and 21. I am the Chief Compliance Officer for an elder healthcare agency. My career in illness and death has influenced my outlook: I’m really grateful to live every single day of this life.”

A Fit Life

“I work out at the gym 5 days a week doing interval weight training with relatively heavy weight and run. On the weekends I’ll pop into a yoga class, ride my bike, run with my dogs, hike or paddle board; it just depends where I am and what’s around.

I love to cook and I love to eat! And most importantly for me is that fitness has become a family thing. My husband and kids also work out.”

 I Have No Choice

“I got serious about fitness at 40 because I had to…..

It was Mothers Day and I was feeling dizzy, sweating profusely and hearing a ring in my ears. I was diagnosed with hypertension. My blood pressure read 240/130 and that put me in the stroke zone. My cholesterol was nearing 500, and my LDL was 180. A whole series of tests came back negative and doctors concluded that my medical condition was genetic.

I couldn’t believe it! I was kind of angry at the situation, to put it nicely. At the time I was 40 years old and maintained a healthy body-weight. I was fairly active (coached girls soccer for 8 years), never smoked, and followed a decent diet.  The cardiologist put me on a gigantic list of meds.”

I Knew I Could Do Better

11903290_10205980460047820_1690861364_n“I overhauled my habits. I started running everyday and lifting weights with a trainer a few times a week. I cut out most red meats and fat. (I’m not a sweets eater so I didn’t have to overcome that) My body started to change and the muscle tone was pretty noticeable.

Surprisingly, I lost about 20 lbs over a year and my size shrank: I was a solid size 10 then, and now I’m a 6-8 depending. More than that though, I was determined to get off all the meds. I signed up for every 5k or obstacle run I could find, you know, to always have a goal to reach. That commitment kept me honest, no skipping the gym. It also made a HUGE difference in my level of stress.”

A Fit Future

“Fast forward to now and I take only a single small dose of blood pressure medication, a small dose of cholesterol medication and an aspirin a day. My resting heart rate lies around 70. My BP is 120/75, and my total cholesterol is down to 180 and the LDL is 60!

I truly believe my commitment has battled my genetics and I’m winning! I tore my left meniscus early last year. I kept working out, kept walking with a brace and postponed surgery until this spring.

barb10896909_10204352551151115_4168079449351867643_nThe recovery was surprisingly not too bad. I can’t run uphill, nor do I try walking lunges but for the most part I can do what I want. It’s taking time and does still hurt. The repair, which is common, has a 50/50 chance of improvement. It has improved, despite some pain, but the clicking and popping has stopped. It’s been five months and I am really back to normal.”

“I’d like women Over 40 to know: A fit lifestyle isn’t about vanity.  We’ve likely had a couple of kids and earned a few wrinkles and dimples. It’s about QUALITY. It’s about DOING! Exercise is not a punishment. It’s a privilege and it’s an investment in yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Thank-you for sharing your story Barb!

Get Fit Over 40

karenuntitled-74HEADERI’ve been fortunate to meet and become friends with many woman over the years at Get Fit Over 40. I’ve come to realize that pictures tell nothing of the challenges and triumphs they each face in becoming and maintaining a Fit Lifestyle Over 40. These woman inspire me to stay in the game of social media as they share their wisdom, inspiration and motivation. Real Woman who are Fit Over 40: I invite you to share your story too! Message me here or on the Facebook page Get Fit Over 40. When we lift one another we are all lifted! Thank you for being part of the GFO40 family. xo ~karen

Build a Brick House

Are you considering a strict diet and bootcamp exercise to make up for summer weight gain? Think again because you’re running out of time, and those quick weight loss schemes never work out in the long run!

As we age it becomes more and more difficult for our bodies to rebound from trauma; crash dieting and “blitz” exercising is traumatic to the human body. It’s an assault that weakens your body, and a weak, sickly body cannot magically morph into a strong and lean physique…it just can’t.

That’s why it’s important to start with “reasonable” and gradually progress to “moderate” so that you can naturally adjust to “vigorous”….

You need to build yourself up!

What most people think of as “conventional dieting,” (slashing calories and eliminating whole food groups) actually tears down the body structure, weakens the foundation of health and creates an unstable environment that will actually diminish your ability to lose weight and remain healthy and strong in the years to come.

BUILD A STRONG, SOLID HOUSE

You need good quality building materials to build a strong and solid house and you need a specific amount of building material to complete the house of your dreams.

BUILD A STRONG, SOLID BODY

So too with your body. If you’re to achieve a strong and healthy physique you need good quality food and you need a specific amount of food to build and maintain that physique.

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Lasting Quality

A well-built home is easier to maintain and requires less maintenance than a poorly built home. A fit and healthy physique is easier to maintain than one that is starved, weak and sickly.

A well-built home takes longer to build but is worth the investment; same too for a body that will perform and thrive for many years to come.

Do it right the first time!

The Planning Stage

There are standard calculations required to build a house.

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When you’re investing time and hard-earned money, you do the groundwork, right? You calculate costs, research materials, establish a time line and figure out the game plan…….

Plan for a strong body too; formulate and follow a game plan for your health and weight loss.

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Calculate your calorie needs, choose wholesome foods, plan your grocery list and prepare your food. It takes time to succeed; preparation, contemplation and organization are part of “the life”.

 How?

Start with the very basics: nutrition and exercise.

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Energy balance is the relationship between “energy in” (food calories taken into the body through food and drink) and “energy out” (calories being used in the body for our daily energy requirements).

HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD I EAT?

Figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate (Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of energy expressed in calories that a person needs to keep the body functioning at rest. Some of those processes are breathing, blood circulation, controlling body temperature, cell growth, brain and nerve function, and contraction of muscles.) The body’s energy needs include the amount of energy required for maintenance at rest, physical activity and movement, and for food digestion, absorption, and transport.

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You can determine your probable optimal calorie need using a simple formula that calculates BMR. You can find BMR calculators all over the internet, here’s a good one: BMR Calculator. Once you’ve nailed down the number you can retrain the body to consume and utilize the nutrients, overcome poor eating habits and gain the energy you need to train intelligently. You’ll adapt!

The Action Plan

The Action Plan energy balance section sets general guidelines for the calories you should be taking in. You need these (quality) calories to build that brick house, so don’t scrimp! Start your program with maintenance level calories to restore nutrients and provide the fuel you need to exercise. Once you are recharged with good food it’s easy to manipulate the calories in order to prompt fat loss.

Kerri’s Calculations

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Kerri S. is an  Action Eight participant; one of 8 women I worked with personally and started The Action Plan earlier this summer (2015).

Kerri was shocked to learn her body requires 1800 calories to function optimally. She’s getting her head around it but it’s difficult to fathom successful weight loss when eating that much.

I point out to her that 1800 calories of wholesome food may seem like “too much” to lose weight, BUT the “sneaky snacking” and nibbling has been the too much!“. 

When Kerri divides those 1800 calories by 5  (3 “meals” and 2 “snacks”), consuming the appropriate amount of food becomes easier to manage. 360 calories per meal is an average clean eating meal and 1800 calories of clean food IS GOING TO BUILD LEAN MUSCLE, which will burn fat.

And that’s the whole point: scale weight is secondary to how you feel, how you look and how you function.

Fat Loss Success

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Kerri is a ways from “getting it all right”.  She’s learning and she’s striving to make better choices. With only the few strategies that she has grasped and applied so far, her efforts are already paying off. Initial comparison photos show changes in her physique and she reports feeling energetic, confident and excited to continue. She has a plan and she’s following the blueprint to building a healthy fit body!

HIT Cardio + Weights + Better Food Choices

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Kerri has a quirky instability in her back that requires modifications during exercise. She is realizing the importance of good nutrition in building strong muscles to support her weak links. Adding a basic weight training routine focuses appropriate loads on her weak areas. With a balanced program of HIT cardio (modified), resistance training and supportive nutritional strategies, she is reaching her goals!

Relevant exercise (that is, exercise that is appropriate for your goals) and proper nutrition will work for you too – even if you’re Over 40. Never doubt it, just get doing it! Build a strong and solid “brick house”.

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Okay? It’s time to get rolling!

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Have a Fit Day!

~karen